I’ve been in this world of online Marketing for a while now – ever since I decided to quit my “real” job in Corporate America and venture out with my own business almost 10 years ago. That’s an eternity in online years! (I must be ready for retirement by now…)
Anyhow…during all this time I’ve “played” with every marketing tool out there, was on social media before it was a thing (MySpace anyone?) and tried #allthethings to grow my business. I feel like I’ve been on every list and hungrily consumed all the podcasts. Whenever anyone who I admired made a recommendation to try out a new thing, I was all over it!
I’m a sucker for new tools and technology, so this online world was just like a shiny, new playground for me.
Look at this awesome sandbox over here!
Those swings look awesome!
Anyone coming on the climbing wall?
Wait – SQUIRREL!
So yes – Really fun.
Really awesome. Except for one thing. I wasn’t “supposed” to be playing. There was work to be done and I wasn’t doing it.
There came a point where the similarities between me my 6-year-old on Christmas morning were staggering. I’d move from one shiny new object to the next without ever spending long enough to discover the potential of each one. I’d make myself dizzy from the number of tabs open across the top of my browser and my to-do list never got “todone” as I was so easily distracted by the next tip from that one guru who was making it rain.
And I got absolutely nowhere. Fast.
My wake up call came when I was just starting a Facebook ads course – ‘cos you know, gotta know #allthethings, and in the first module, the course instructor laid out a sales funnel for us. She stressed the futility of running Facebook ads without having a funnel in place.
And I was blown away by the simplicity of what she was saying.
If you don’t know what a funnel is, it’s basically the path that your prospective customers move along until they are in a place where they want to buy from you. You create the path and help your customers by providing useful, actionable information as they progress along.
It truly was like that “well-oiled machine” that everyone talks about.
Of course, this was not a new concept to me. The customer journey is a foundational concept in my Marketing degree back in 1997! Business doesn’t change THAT much – just the tools. and my obsession with the tools was becoming my downfall.
I didn’t need to learn any more new things, I just needed to put into place what I already knew and the best funnel for me. One that suited me and my business, my life, my values and my goals.
I had to pick one marketing system and stick to it.
Once I had that revelation, what was once so seemingly super complicated was so, so simple.
I let go of all the things and put my focus on the path someone needed to travel to move them closer to working with me. I figured how what they needed at each stage in the journey and met them where they were at. Like delivering care packages to a hiker along a trail, I was there with the clean socks and fresh undies, just in the nick of time! Figuratively speaking of course – none of my clients really ever needed clean underwear, lol.
Deciding on that one strategy was hard for me. I don’t like to limit my options but as any creative will tell you, out of restriction comes creativity and this, is always a good thing!
So if you find yourself trying Pinterest for a week, Instagram for a hot second and dipping your toe in and out of FB ads then I’m going to urge you to stop for a minute and take stock. Plan out your customer journey and pick ONE best strategy for where you are right now in your business and your life to make it work for you.
I know many of you reading my blog love taking photos just because you love taking photos. I also know that many of you love photography so much that you want to share that gift with the world and get financially rewarded for it too. If you have that desire then keep on reading. You’ll see more blog post from me over the coming months about this side of photography and how you can turn your passion into a full time income.
Sometimes a business can happen quite naturally. Chances are, if you love photography so much, you are THAT mom on the baseball field taking ALL the pictures ALL the time. At some point, the other parents realize their iPhone photos can’t compare with the beautifully captured images you are taking and they start asking you to shoot their kid’s photos. Or perhaps you’re so excited to use your new lenses you jump at the chance of photographing the preschool Santa photos and business grows naturally from there. If these types of situations have happened to you now is the time to leverage that. People already know that you are “snap happy” so make sure you tell them that you are open for business!
Its easier than ever to reach out to you friends and and your family. One click of a button and you can shoot an email to everyone in your address book. You’re only one status update from declaring your new venture to the world! Use the power of social media to tell your circle that you are doing some mini-shoots or send them a personalized message inviting them to a shoot. Telling your inner circle first will give you the confidence and practice you need to start pitching your services to strangers.
You actually have to ask people to share you are doing this new venture. Often times, friends might be hesitant to refer you if they are unclear that you are taking new clients on. Make sure your circle knows that you are open to shooting new people and actively ask them to refer you to their friends.
If you’ve already taken photos of them encourage them to share on social media and tag you or ideally your business’ social profiles.
Sweeten the pot even more by given them something in return for sending you a referral. This can be a formalized thing such as a free mini session for every three referrals given to you, or something a little more spontaneous by just rewarding those people in your network who you know are good for referrals. Perhaps a free 10 x 8 print or session every so often will help nurture that relationship and keep you top of mind when they are being asked to recommend a photographer. Personally I like a more formalized solution which is baked into your marketing plan. Having a system in place for this will ensure that this marketing strategy can essentially run itself and something I help my clients set up all the time.
As has been said a bajillion times before, there has never been a better time to get yourself and your business seen for FREE using the internet and social media. But because of this super low barrier to entry it is harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. Its important that you fully utilize your social media profiles to represent your business. Make sure the basic information is filled out correctly and for a local business put all of your contact information on there.
Encourage clients to write a testimonial for you on your social sites – e.g. Facebook, as these will be some of the first places people will look when researching your business. A good testimonial is priceless and you should use them everywhere in your marketing.
And of course, it should go without saying, the photography you share should be your absolute best work and an example of the type of photography you love to shoot. If you want to be a wedding photographer, tone down the baby shoots and most definitely those sweeping landscape shots. Post lots of beautiful brides to solidify your position in the market. If you are not getting the type of work that you truly want to shoot then take a good look at what your social media photos are saying about you. If you’re lacking the shots you desire set a plan in motion to go out and shoot them!
Being a photographer you have the luxury of constantly creating content that should sell your services for you. Every photo you take can be a piece of marketing material – its just up to you to put it in front of the right eyeballs. The next time your in your local Dentist Office, check out their wall decor. Does it need updating? Could you provide them with some pretty pictures in exchange for a utilizing their wall space? Think about the amount of people that are going to see your work on a daily basis. Even better if you can negotiate a deal with a very aligned vendor such as a Pediatric’s Office if you are a Newborn Photographer or a florist if you specialize in Weddings.
Also consider joining up with aligned vendors who operate in your industry vertical for cross referrals. Start to build this network of people who you like to work with and nurture them the way you would your clients. Word of Mouth Marketing has been around a long time and is flourishing now more than ever thanks to our super connectedness on Social Media.
These best thing about all these marketing strategies is that none of them need to cost you any money – which in any business is a good thing!
Last Wednesday was March 17th which as everyone knows is St. Patrick’s Day, our Irish national holiday (and also one of my favorite days of the year!) As my regular readers already know I’m Irish through and through – no really – I was actually born there and lived the majority of my life there so it really is a special day for me!
Anyways, I just thought I’d let you know that I spent this glorious St Paddy’s day morning being interviewed on Blog Talk Radio on “For Powerful Women Only” about Adapting and Changing (to my life here in the US) and entrepreneurship and all sorts of other chit chat. The interview was such fun and was with Lady T “The Business Coach for Moms.” She an awesome coach! Even through the course of the interview, she was able to pull out of me some really interesting and thought provoking insights. Being a work from home/homeschooling/ mom of 5, she knows a thing or two about all the trials and tribulations that moms have while endeavoring to run a business. I am, as ever, a huge fan of hers and recommend her highly.
So, if you are interested in finding out a little about me and my background you might want to give the interview a listen here
And don’t forget to check out LadyT’s blog here for really awesome tips for women starting their own business.